Sid Hartman: Division still not out of reach for Vikings

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2013 - 1:41 AM

They are only one game back in the loss column of every other NFC North team thanks to Sunday’s results.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had a big smile on his face after seeing Sunday’s NFC North games because all the teams in the division now have at least two losses. Detroit and Chicago are 3-2, Green Bay is 2-2 and the Vikings are 1-3.

“This is good news because we are back in the race again,” Frazier said.

Frazier said this hours before the news came out Sunday night that the Vikings were signing quarterback Josh Freeman, recently released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Now all the media types who had the Vikings in real trouble after they started out 0-3 will have to reconsider the Vikings’ potential to win the North since they are just one loss behind the other teams in the division.

The Vikings are 0-2 in the division, but those two games were on the road, at Detroit and Chicago. They still have to play all their division rivals at home, and they also still must visit Green Bay.

“We’re 1-3 right now and we have a lot of football to be played,” Frazier said. “I’m hoping that that game we had last week in London, the win that we got, would be the momentum builder that we need and we can get going and put some wins together.

“It has been a tough start, but I like the way we finished the ballgame last week with a win, and hopefully that will propel us on to good things.”

Frazier admitted that the Vikings, who are last in the league in pass defense, must improve their secondary play if they are to repeat their playoff appearance from last year.

“No question,” he said. “We have to keep bringing the young guys along that are playing back there.”

After the bye week, Frazier expects to get Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford back into the defensive backfield against Carolina on Sunday. And tight end Rhett Ellison might be back as well.

“It’ll be good to have two starters back that we missed, and hopefully that will help us get better,” Frazier said. “… [The secondary] has been up and down. We have to get better.”

Asked if there is any chance to get the retired Antoine Winfield back, Frazier had his doubts.

“I don’t see it,” he said. “You know, I can only coach the guys that we have out there, and they’re working as hard as they can to get better and they will get better, they are getting better.

“That’s one of the things about playing in the secondary, is you can’t hide those mistakes. They’re glaring in the secondary, when you make a mistake. We’re just coaching the guys that we have.”

QB still up in the air

Frazier was asked if the health of quarterback Christian Ponder is improving.

“Ponder is getting better,” he said. “We’ll see where he is this week with the rib injury and then we’ll make a determination as the week goes on, we’ll come back [Monday] and the doctors will take a look at him and we’ll go from there.”

But the signing of Freeman might indicate that Ponder’s injury might keep him out several more weeks. It’s not clear if Freeman would be ready after one week of practice, but Frazier said he was comfortable with Matt Cassel.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
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Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
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Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
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Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
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